Emotive acts of citizenship, social change and knowledge production in Lebanon

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This article examines the ways in which people protest and who protests in
Beirut, Lebanon through the study of the ‘trash protests’ in 2015. It aims to
problematize the assumed universalism of the West’s theories of citizenship,
personhood and social movements, through contextualized critical reflections
of experiences beyond the familiar cases in North America and Western
Europe that dominate knowledge production. In addition, it critiques the
politically orientalist assumptions of the citizen in the Global South as
incapable of constituting themselves politically and transcending primordial
ties. It notes that this conception is predicated on notions that citizenship is a
rational contractual relationship with the state, as opposed to an emotive one.
Whilst there is a developing literature that recognizes the role of emotions in
social movements (Jasper, 2011), this has largely focused on the role of
emotion in political mobilization. Rather, I use interviews collected in 2016
with a range of protesters (members of NGOs, trash protest movements,
artists, film-makers and other ‘activist’ members of the public to study
knowledge production, via the performative and emotive acts in Beirut’s trash
protests. These show that the dichotomies of rationality and emotionality
collapse when there is a recognition that emotions are social, political and
cultural practices (Ahmed, 2014).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)114-142
JournalInterface: a journal for and about social movements
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2017


  • citizenship
  • emotion
  • protest
  • knowledge production
  • Lebanon
  • social change


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